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September 12, 2016

Port in Brazil's "Northern Arc" ships first Vessel of Soybeans

Last week, the very first vessel loaded with soybeans set sail from the Port of Santana in the state of Amapa in northeastern Brazil. The vessel carried 25,000 tons of soybeans destined for Rotterdam. The state of Amapa is located north of the mouth of the Amazon River in northern Brazil. Its southern border is the Amazon River and its northern border is the country of French Guiana.

The Port of Santana is part of what is called the "Northern Arc" of ports in Brazil. These are new and expanding ports along the Amazon River and in northeastern Brazil that are being developed in order to export soybeans and corn out of northern Brazil instead of the traditional ports in southeastern Brazil. While the volume of exports from the "Northern Arc" of ports is small compared to southern Brazil, the volume is expected to grow steadily in the years ahead. It is estimated that within ten years, as much as 50% of Brazil's grain exports could be exported out of these northern ports.

In fact, most of the soybeans that will be exported out of the Port of Santana will be produced in northern Mato Grosso. With the completion of Highway BR-163 from Mato Grosso to the Amazon River, soybeans will be trucked to the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River where they will then be barged down the Amazon River and exported from the Port of Santana or other ports at the mouth of the Amazon River.

A very small portion of the soybeans exported from the port will actually be produced in the state of Amapa. The Brazilian research service Embrapa estimates that of the one million hectares of cerrado in the state, 400,000 hectares would be suited for agricultural production. Soybean production started in the state in 2012 and the Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Brazil (Aprosoja) estimates that framers in the state planted 14,000 hectares of soybeans in 2015/16 and the soybean acreage will increase to 21,000 hectares in 2016/17.

Most of the state of Amapa is located north of the Equator, so it is in the Northern Hemisphere and the growing season in the state is opposite the growing season in central and southern Brazil. Soybeans in Amapa are planted in March or April and harvested in July or August.

The states of Roraima and Amapa are the two most northern states in Brazil and the two least populated states in Brazil. The majority of both states is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the two states are composed of Amazon Rainforest, but there are areas of cerrado vegetation (savanna) as well and it is the cerrado regions that have the potential for agricultural production. Embrapa estimates that eventually there could be as much as 5 million hectares of agricultural production in the two states combined.